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Unique Motivation Tips for Independent StudyIt's hard to get some students' motivated...

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karensanchezedd | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 13, 2008 at 2:23 PM via web

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Unique Motivation Tips for Independent Study

It's hard to get some students' motivated to do their own work at home. Does anyone have unique motivation tips?

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morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted November 13, 2008 at 2:51 PM (Answer #2)

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I have the same problem with many of my students. Communication with the parents is vital. I find that parents, for the most part, are grateful to know when their student is not doing his or her work. For some students this will not work, and for some it may even make it worse, but for the majority of students, having strong participation from parents is essential.

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brookebrewer81 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 13, 2008 at 3:51 PM (Answer #3)

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I think as teachers we all face this problem. In my classroom while I would love for all students to be intrinsically motivated, I find that if I offer extrinsic motivations they get the job done.

I use a treasure box as a reward. If they turn in their homwork all week, then they get to go in the treausre box. There are pencils, free homework passes, and other fun trinkets.

Another idea used in my classroom is that during the week I will allow students to choose one homework assignment they do not want to complete. If before they go home they can demonstrate to me they understand the topic or math problem, etc., then I will excuse them from the homework that day.

Good Luck!

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 13, 2008 at 4:54 PM (Answer #4)

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I come at this issue from a different perspective. I am anti-homework. Kids are at school for 6-7 hours a day. Let's do some figuring: 24 hours in a day. Subtracting 8 for sleep leaves 16. Subtracting 7 for school leaves 9. Subtracting at least an hour for travel to and from school leaves 8. If they play a sport or a musical instrument, subtract 2 for practice, leaving 6. Older teenagers often work, so subtract another 5 hours. That leaves 1 hour for dinner and family time. When will they find time for themselves, let alone time to do homework?

My philosophy is that when kids are at home, they need to be focused on home, not on school. They go to school for 12 years. They will work for more than 50. Let them enjoy being young.

By the way, most of my students' parents have expressed appreciation for my not giving homework.

Heck, I'm not motivated to grade papers or read essays or prepare lessons when I'm at home!

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moondance83 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 13, 2008 at 5:16 PM (Answer #5)

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I have the same problem with many of my students. Communication with the parents is vital. I find that parents, for the most part, are grateful to know when their student is not doing his or her work. For some students this will not work, and for some it may even make it worse, but for the majority of students, having strong participation from parents is essential.

I have to agree that parent communication, especially at the middle school level is critical.  I usually e-mail the parents once a month or so with just some important dates, such as quizzes and test.

This really helps the parent feel that the know what is happening and keeps them on top of their kids--getting them to do their work at home.

 I've also tried doing notebook quizzes where the students can use their notes to answer questions to things like hw and class notes that they should have in the notebook.

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jpiatak | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 13, 2008 at 5:36 PM (Answer #6)

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I also do notebook quizzes.  I am trying to help students become more organized in the middle grades.  I pair students that need help with this and also will sometimes give class time where we will review a table of contents that I keep for each class. 

I also agree that parent communication is key.  I have been in my school for quite some time and parents know that when I call with a concern, I care about their child's progress because I have made the time to talk to them.  Parents also are more supportive if there is a behavior issue because they have already talked to me.  Positive calls and notes are very important too!  I send out a bi-weekly plan that lets parents know  of upcoming graded assignments, tests, and quizzes.  I also note what homework is every evening on these plans.  I have gotten quite a bit of positive feedback on this and it helps me to be better organized.

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whoa-nelly | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 13, 2008 at 6:03 PM (Answer #7)

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I agree that work at home should be minimal. However, getting middle school kids to be responsible and organized takes effort.

This past year my teammate and I took this approach.

First Quarter- Missing work that is being collected requires a student to complete a MAC (missing assignment card) This gives the vitals AND requires a REASON as to why the assignment is not turned in...and forgot or left at home is not a reason....that is an excuse..the reason might be that I wasn't organized and didn't write in my planner, etc. This gives me something to show parents that their students are accepting responsibility for missing work.

Second Quarter-Students complete a MAC AND EMAIL their parents to explain why they have missing work. If there is no email, they get to call.  This is a bit embarrassing, but does take the responsibility of notification off of me. It also puts the ball in the parents court.  I've told the parents to feel free to email the students back and I will be sure to give them the message.  Those are fun to read!

Third Quarter-All of the above AND they have to work on missing work at lunch. This is their only free time and we take it away when they are irresponsible.

Fourth Quarter-All of the above AND Saturday school for any work not completed. Parents must stay and we drink coffee and talk while the student does the missing work. It only happens once.

Again, I don't assign much homework, but expect work from the classroom to be completed daily.

This tightening of the screws has been very successful for us.

 

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 14, 2008 at 9:18 AM (Answer #8)

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I put a lot of the work on the kids' shoulders.  We do Socratic Seminars where they are the ones writing the questions and preparing to discuss.  I observe and redirect as necessary or ask a crucial question that hasn't been tackled.  We do lots of projects and most of the writing or portfolios, etc. is done in class.  I do expect my students to do the reading, but I usually give 2 days or more for that to get done so that smaller increments of reading will suffice each night or over a weekend.  They know that if they don't read, they can't participate in the Seminar, and that takes away their voice and part of their daily grade.

With my students, this works.  Put the responsibility on them.  In addition, I do keep a website with my assignments and class itineraries on it.  Students can check that when they are absent or forget to write an assignment down, and they can also email me from there.  IT's great for parents, too.

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hingram | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 15, 2008 at 7:39 AM (Answer #9)

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I teach high school math and have students of all motivational levels. What I have found to work best is adjusting my late work policy. Instead of having strict due dates and not accepting any late work or counting off for things turned in late, I have implemented the policy that anything will be graded for full credit up until the chapter test day. I communicate this very clearly at the start of each school year and also emphasize it when a test is coming up. This policy does not mean I have students with no missing assignments, but it does allow for those students who get busy or did not understand something at the beginning of the unit and begin to towards the end.

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laina359 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 16, 2008 at 4:36 PM (Answer #10)

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I think it's important to make sure that the homework is not only relevant to what was just taught, but also made meaningful to them.  Students don't care about hw if they are given ditto after ditto, which seems to be pretty common.  A simple discussion of how the topic relates to them in their own world, will improve motivation in completing assignments.  Also, not being afraid to discuss pieces of your own experiences is also helpful.  It makes you "real" and relatable to them, and therefore they will want to work harder for you.  Quite often, teachers aren't seen as real people from the perspective of the students. 

An example of this would be assigning students to write a story about their own life experiences that may still affect them positively or negatively in their current lives.  They couldn't have done this without explicit instruction, step by step instruction, and modeling.  I told them a personal story (not overly personal though), put it into writing while they helped me word it, described how it had affected me in my adult life, and transitioned with them in how to put it all together.  They were extremely motivated and I received beautiful stories that also had the required elements. 

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sbinkowski | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 16, 2008 at 5:53 PM (Answer #11)

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I also teach math. I have started letting students turn in any work before each progress report or report card date. We have a program that allows parents to access the students' grades, attendance, and discipline at any time with only an internet connection. They get to see their own child's grades on each and every assignment, as teachers put them in. This has started giving parents that control that they hadn't had before. I have had more work turned into me this nine weeks than every before. I also keep a website that is up to date with what we are doing. It has important dates on it. I also have a wikispace that has all of my project information on it. (Outlined day-by-day what was supposed to be done to keep on track.) Most of my students can also get done with homework in just a few minutes. These are middle schoolers, so I know that they don't have jobs. Also, with math, the only way for them to really know it is to do it again, and again.

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spottedslinky | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 17, 2008 at 3:43 AM (Answer #12)

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I agree that work at home should be minimal. However, getting middle school kids to be responsible and organized takes effort.

This past year my teammate and I took this approach.

First Quarter- Missing work that is being collected requires a student to complete a MAC (missing assignment card) This gives the vitals AND requires a REASON as to why the assignment is not turned in...and forgot or left at home is not a reason....that is an excuse..the reason might be that I wasn't organized and didn't write in my planner, etc. This gives me something to show parents that their students are accepting responsibility for missing work.

Second Quarter-Students complete a MAC AND EMAIL their parents to explain why they have missing work. If there is no email, they get to call.  This is a bit embarrassing, but does take the responsibility of notification off of me. It also puts the ball in the parents court.  I've told the parents to feel free to email the students back and I will be sure to give them the message.  Those are fun to read!

Third Quarter-All of the above AND they have to work on missing work at lunch. This is their only free time and we take it away when they are irresponsible.

Fourth Quarter-All of the above AND Saturday school for any work not completed. Parents must stay and we drink coffee and talk while the student does the missing work. It only happens once.

Again, I don't assign much homework, but expect work from the classroom to be completed daily.

This tightening of the screws has been very successful for us.

 

I like the idea of having the kids explain to their parents the reason they did not turn in their work. How can you require the parents to stay during the Saturday school?

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spottedslinky | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 18, 2008 at 6:59 PM (Answer #13)

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I come at this issue from a different perspective. I am anti-homework. Kids are at school for 6-7 hours a day. Let's do some figuring: 24 hours in a day. Subtracting 8 for sleep leaves 16. Subtracting 7 for school leaves 9. Subtracting at least an hour for travel to and from school leaves 8. If they play a sport or a musical instrument, subtract 2 for practice, leaving 6. Older teenagers often work, so subtract another 5 hours. That leaves 1 hour for dinner and family time. When will they find time for themselves, let alone time to do homework?

My philosophy is that when kids are at home, they need to be focused on home, not on school. They go to school for 12 years. They will work for more than 50. Let them enjoy being young.

By the way, most of my students' parents have expressed appreciation for my not giving homework.

Heck, I'm not motivated to grade papers or read essays or prepare lessons when I'm at home!

Ditto! Thank you for expressing the thought that kids should have a home life. Now if we teachers could just figure that out for ourselves....

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 20, 2008 at 11:46 PM (Answer #14)

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Close monitoring of their assignments is key and frequent grading would be motivation for me.  They must be evaluated regularly and consistently for them to get the message that if they do not do their work, their grades will suffer.  They have to be held accountable for their work.

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greggov | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 21, 2008 at 6:54 PM (Answer #15)

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I have to agree that I accept late work but with a penalty.

I have a chapter test coming up and some of the students are just now understanding an assignment that was due in the last two weeks, so part of their preperation for the test will be to complete all assignments given during the current chapter.

I feel that by accepting the work for some credit students will not feel defeated by the top layer of achieving students. Being in class with students that get it right the first time can be intimidating enough.

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hulamonckey | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 23, 2009 at 10:24 PM (Answer #16)

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Hi Guys,

I am a tenth grade student at a private high school. I will be missing two weeks of school and was wondering if indeopendent study would be a good idea to do during the duration of the two weeks. Or if anybody has a good idea of what i can do please reply asap!!!!! Or your thought in independent study and what independent study actually works!!!!

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jcurnett | Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 25, 2009 at 4:04 PM (Answer #17)

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It's refreshing to hear from a student who would like to study independently! Good for you. Here's an idea for you while you are away from school:

1. Choose a book that's manageable in length for your reading rate--something literary or academic that will be challenging and engaging but not over-the-top difficult. Maybe you could consult your librarian before you leave. 

2.  Read background criticism and commentary about the book before you begin reading. E-notes is a great place to start! 

3.  Choose three or four "threads" or "lenses" or "themes" for the book and, as you read, annotate the text for these ideas. Annotation while reading is key for a deeper understanding of the book. An idea: use different colors of sticky notes, one color for each "thread."

4.  When you have finished reading--maybe at the beginning of week two--organize the notes you have taken. You have the makings of a critical response. 

5. Finally, go back to the criticism you read before starting the book. Find an article that interests you (in retrospect): can you respond to it with a critical essay? You have the makings of a great response: primary source material (from the notes you took) as well as secondary source material (the critical essay).

If you can accomplish this--reading background information, reading a book, annotating the text as you read, and responding to the text and criticism in an essay--in two weeks, you will have spent your time well. Good luck!

 

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 19, 2010 at 8:28 AM (Answer #18)

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I actually believe that independent study is the only kind of study that is really viable as it allows the student to work according to the internal motivation rather than being compelled by extrinsic ones like grades and rewards.  If you have the opportunity, read some books about a subject you like or come up with a project or something you'd like to try and put together.

As an English teacher, I would suggest trying to write for a real audience.  Write a short story and examine how you might go about getting it published.  Write an article or an op/ed and see if you can't get it published in the local paper.  But the chance to do something that isn't entirely determined by a teacher or a school curriculum can be a really valuable chance to pursue your own interests so hopefully you find a way to take advantage of it.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 24, 2011 at 9:27 AM (Answer #20)

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The work has to be meaningful. If you demonstrate how much they will benefit from doing the work, they will be more willing to do it. For example, try giving one test problem on each homework assignment. They won't know which it is, but doing the homework will give them an advantage on the test.

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